CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Detectives are continuing to investigate human remains recovered in the Kanawha Falls area this week, focusing on the possibility that the remains are those of Sue Roop, a young single mother who disappeared in the area in February, 1979.
Investigators have collected samples of DNA from members of Roop’s family to aid in the identification process, according to a news release by Fayette County officials.
“We are by no means certain that these remains are those of Sue Roop, but that is certainly a distinct possibility,” Fayette County Prosecutor Larry Harrah stated in the news release. “By submitting the known DNA of members of Sue Roop’s family by comparison we are hoping to facilitate and expedite the identification process if these remains are indeed her.”
The discovery of the remains happened Tuesday when someone searching for arrowheads uncovered a human skull under a large rock overhang in the Kanawha Falls area across the Kanawha River from Glen Ferris, according to the news release. When sheriff’s detectives and investigators from the state Medical Examiner’s Office excavated the site, they recovered what appears to be the complete skeletal remains of a smaller-statured adult.
The remains were buried in a shallow grave and were covered with topsoil and several large rocks.
Investigators believe the remains were buried for several decades but less than 50 years.
They say the only person reported as missing from the area during that period was Roop, who was last seen in the Bentree area of Nicholas and Clay counties.
“A large number of sheriff’s deputies and state troopers conducted interviews and followed up on various leads over the past 38 years concerning the disappearance of Sue Roop,” stated Fayette County Sheriff-elect Mike Fridley.
“A 38-year-old case is certainly not your average murder investigation and presents unique difficulties and challenges for investigators. Witnesses or potential witnesses or even suspects may have died or left the area. Difficult does not mean impossible, however. Out detectives intend to pursue this case with vigor and determination, despite any obstacles in our path.”
The remains will be examined by the state Medical Examiner’s Office, which will work to determine the cause and manner of death.
“The burial of these bones in this shallow grave certainly indicates that this death was most likely the result of a homicide, but the final determination as to the cause and manner of death must be made by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,” Fridley stated.
Investigators asked for anyone with knowledge of the situation to call the sheriff’s department at 304-574-4216 or to send a message through the department’s Facebook page.
“Somewhere out there is someone who knows something, someone who has a critical piece of information that will aid in solving this case,” Fridley stated.